Local Bike Shops Series Seabass London
From 2016, Pedalnorth.com will be working closely with NEOS Cycling the distribution company with a twist. They're on a mission to build an ecosystem between online consumers, new brands, and independent bike shops. We support their ethos in that we also believe that there is no better way to get involved with cycling than to visit your independent bike shop. With years of experience, they can provide you with a service that’s tailored to you, no matter how much or little experience you may have. Support is always at hand and you can build up a bond of trust with them over time.
NEOS blogger and pedalnorth.com writer Lindsey Walker took a visit the independent bike shop 'SeaBass' in the busy streets of Peckham, South London.
Welcomed with the warmest of smiles, we spoke to Sam, who is one-third of the original powerhouse behind the well-known and loved SeaBass Cycles.
SeaBass cycles an independent bike shop part of NEOS partner network
SEABASS IS QUITE AN UNUSUAL NAME FOR A BIKE SHOP. WHERE DID THE NAME SEABASS CYCLES COME FROM?
It’s quite difficult finding a name for a bike shop that is unique and sticks in the mind. Charlie (1/3 of SeaBass Cycles) had the idea to name our shop after my dog, SeaBass. Originally it began as a bit of a joke, but it just stuck and although it may confuse people at first, they never forget our name!
WHERE DID YOU WORK PRIOR TO OPENING YOUR OWN BIKE SHOP? HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN IN THE CYCLING INDUSTRY?
I’ve been in the cycling industry for around 15 years, from working front of house to metal fabrication work. So I’ve seen a lot of different sides to a bike shop, the good and the bad.
YOU’RE A RELATIVELY NEW BIKE SHOP, FIRST OPENING IN NOVEMBER 2013; BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STUCK OUT FOR US AT NEOS WAS THAT YOUR MAIN FOCUS WAS TO RUN A BIKE SHOP THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT AS A CUSTOMER, A SHOP WHICH HAD UNBIASED VIEWS ON PARTICULAR BIKES OR STYLE OF RIDING, WITH A WORKSHOP THAT COULD CATER FOR ANYONE! HOW DID YOU INTEND TO ACHIEVE THIS?
With my experience of working in the cycling industry, you learn a lot and see a lot. Our focus was to remove any preconceptions of what people thought about bike shops. I think people assume a bike shop is a bit like going to a car mechanic, there’s a fear you’ll be ripped off, just because you might not have the knowledge to know any better.
You could end up being sold something you don’t need, just because someone you put your trust in says you need it. But we wanted to make sure this wasn’t the case with us.
We’re an honest bike shop with great prices and a great deal of knowledge. We want to get to know our customers – we even made a point of remembering each customer's name in the beginning, though that has now become a bit harder to do! We want people to keep coming back to us because of our reliability and service - it’s always great to see new faces turn into regulars!
It has always been a priority to maintain an unbiased view with our customers. I began riding on a BMX that I continue to do today, but I will always be open to other disciplines – which is the same for the rest of the team.
I think that’s why people enjoy visiting us, because no matter what you ride, we are here to help and with our combined knowledge we will help you in any way we can.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS LOCATION? HOW IS THE CYCLING COMMUNITY IN PECKHAM?
I’m originally from Bristol, but since moving to London I’ve always lived in South London.
When we started to consider where to open up, we found a potential location which had a bike path right outside. There was also only one other bike shop located over a mile away from this location, so it was perfect! There’s definitely a growing population of cyclists in the area. Which may be why there are a lot of bike frame builders nearby – which is something we originally wanted to do ourselves.
However, the frame builders here are quite renowned, so we decided to start with bike repairs and services and build a name for ourselves and become more established first, before venturing into frame building. This has worked quite well for us and we are now just about to get started with frame building, which will begin at the start of next year!
YOU HAVE MANY LOYAL CUSTOMERS, BUT HOW DO NEW CUSTOMERS TEND TO FIND OUT ABOUT SEABASS CYCLES?
Although we use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, our main customer base has been built through word of month. There’s a great cycling community in London and I think because we aim to have every customer leaving with a smile, they are happy to recommend us to their friends and family – which is great!
We also sponsor The 5th Floor and Velociposse, which has been a great way for us to connect with a wider cycling community. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to help teams such as @the5thfloor and @velocipossecycling grow. Seeing them achieve great things is really fulfilling!
NEOS CYCLING AIMS TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN ONLINE CONSUMERS AND THEIR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BIKE SHOPS. WE WANT TO SUPPORT THEIR GROWTH BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THEY CAN OFFER A SERVICE THAT IS LIKE NO OTHER. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VISITING AN INDEPENDENT BIKE SHOP?
The SeaBass Cycles team here have such a vast and in-depth knowledge of the cycling industry, from where to ride, how to ride and what to ride. We have our customers best interests at heart because we can create a face-to-face relationship with them to determine just what they need.
I think with cycling there’s so much to learn, but people are often afraid to ask because there’s a fear of judgment. But we all started somewhere and we understand that. So we would never let you leave with the wrong product, just to sell.
The only policy we do have is to make sure you leave us with a smile. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced rider or just starting out!
*Photos taken in the Peckham workshop